by Annette Beyers

The second EC Energy Efficiency Conference

Eastern Cape Energy Conference reveals region's hunger to lead the way

Second Eastern Cape ConfeEnergy Efficiencyrence
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This sold-out second Eastern Cape Energy Efficiency Conference, hosted by the Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE), attracted delegates from all industry segments from around the country. Themed ‘Think Global, Act Local’, the wide range of speakers addressed the South African energy crisis, calling for a collective effort to keep the lights on and take the lead with energy-efficient policies and technologies.

Dr John Ryan, founder and director of Certification Europe, shared the European story and lessons learnt through its own trials and research. Following Dr Ryan was Thys Moller, general manager of Eskom Eastern Cape, who painted a picture of the reality of current supply and demand, and steps needed to avert another crisis.

Barry Bredenkamp from the South African National Energy Development Institute, and Alistair McMaster from the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, showcased opportunities through the tax incentives for organisations and the green policies and projects currently being pioneered, respectively.

Director of projects at the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Peter Neilson, shared with the delegates the challenges the metro encounters and the opportunities in small renewable energy integration. Lance Schultz from the Automotive Industry Development Centre explained the model used which produced savings for the local motor industry of R26 million over the last three years, with Wilderness Foundation’s Andrew Muir reminding us all that we need to tread more gently with this beautiful region.

The success of the event would not have been possible without partners including the Regional Innovation Forum, which gave students access to the conference; DEDEAT, which brought a strong regional theme to the event; Eskom, which showcased excellent savings programmes and opportunities, and the incredible venue sponsored by the Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative, connecting industry with education at grassroots level.

Complementing the day was 24 exhibition stands, displaying the latest in: technologies with Lumotech, Enestar, Combustion Technologies and Electrosense; training through the Energy Training Foundation and University of Johannesburg; and services through Green Leaf Environmental Standard, National Cleaner Production Centre and Point Green Energy Solutions to name a few.

In attendance was the president of the SAEE Karel Steyn, who wrote: “I am absolutely blown away with the range of speakers and the topics covered in one day. Andrew from the Wilderness Foundation literally brought some tears as I could actually feel his appreciation, but also his concern and warnings with what people like us are trying to achieve.

"Similar 'nature conservationist' speakers at other conferences are often arrogant, with no consideration for the balance between the needs of people and that of nature, with the major focus only on nature. This was not the case with this individual who was humble and respectful, while making an extremely good case with factual/detailed information that speaks to the heart as much as to the mind, for people to consider.

"I often hear and see the same things over and over as I go to EE conferences and lots of meetings, but this was a refreshing change – I actually learnt a lot. Even those topics of which I know a lot were more comprehensive. I also met some new people whom I intend getting to know better. I also met old friends who invited me to participate more in the region and with them.

"The goodwill I saw and felt between stakeholders is impressive. It is abundantly clear that you and the branch members have managed to bring the larger energy efficiency community of the Eastern Cape together – not only for the day, but generally as a group working together for the benefit of the region; no one badmouthed anyone, no one was trying to score points against someone else, but with everyone seriously focused and trying to contribute to the energy efficiency drive while doing good for the region and the country.”

The next SAEE event takes place on 2 July 2013, focusing on the green building industry. For more information, contact the local branch/Gareth Burley via email: easterncape@saee.org.za.

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